There Will Be Blood is an immaculately shot film. I could put dozens of its frames on a pedestal, but this month’s shot is the film’s most foreboding sequence. After spending over two hours in the rough terrain of an oil field, where capitalism’s dark blood pumps from the ground, Paul Thomas Anderson’s opus quickly jumps ahead in time and transitions to a sterile shot of a bowling alley, which harkens back to the clean, calculated vision of Stanley Kubrick. Pristine and a symbol of wealth, the bowling alley is an ominous omen that forces our stomachs to bottom out. Daniel Plainview, a man built from the dirt, grit and sweat of the 19th century, resides in a gluttonous mansion that holds this jarring setting. Much like when we see an animal caged at the zoo, we inherently know this isn’t the proper environment for a creature of the Earth. Unfortunately, Plainview’s lust for power has him cornered. The bowling alley, a folly for many, is but a location that looks to capitalize on the film’s title and Plainview’s unhinged mind.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cinematographer: Robert Elswit